227 | To the Board of Trade

    Boston July 28 1763

    My Lords

    Some of the people usually called French Neutrals residing in this Province have been with me & have shown me sevral letters they have received from their friends now in England; the general purport of which is as follows: The Duke de Nivernois845 has signified to them that the King (of france) esteems the Acadians as the most faithful of his subjects; and if they will come to France they shall be well provided for. They are therefore required to send a list of all that desire to go to France distinguishing Men Women & children; & Transports will be sent to fetch them. As it has never been determined, in what light these People are to be seen, whether subjects, or Enemies, or Neutrals, I should be glad to receive your Lordships commands how to act, when these french transports arrive.

    Many of these People are very industrious & would, I beleive, prefer this Country & become subjects of Great Britain in earnest, if they were assured of liberty of Conscience. I observed in the letters which they Communicated to me that the maintenance of their religion is among the cheif Motives offered to them for their quitting this Country. They are not disposed to go to Canada where a toleration of their religion is promised but cheifly inclined, if they settle at all, to be on the Eastern coast. There is certainly room enough for them & an hundred times their Number, if their settling in a body with the free exercise of their religion under a priest appointed by the English Government should be thought advisable. If your Lordships should take this Matter into your consideration so far as to form any conclusions for encouraging these people to stay here, I should be glad to receive your orders as soon as may be. There are but two things wanting on their behalf; the granting them lands & tolerating their religion: on the other hand it should be required of them that they take the Oaths of Allegiance in as full a manner as Papists can do.

    I am, with great respect, My Lords, Your Lordships most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The Right Honble The Lords Commissioners for Trade &c.

    ALS, RC CO 5/755, ff 27-29.

    FB’s letter was transmitted to the secretary of state and acknowledged by the Board. Board of Trade to FB, Whitehall, 17 Oct. 1763, CO 5/920, p. 164.